By Chris Caldwell
Theodore McCarrick has had longtime ties to Pope Francis stretching back decades, with both involved in a controversial seminary in Argentina.
Evidence reveals McCarrick took multiple trips to Argentina, and a reliable source confirms that on at least one of those trips McCarrick personally visited Bergoglio in the apostolic nunciature.
Public reports reveal that decades ago, McCarrick became heavily involved with the Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE), founded in Argentina by Fr. Carlos Miguel Buela, a now known homosexual predator who, like McCarrick, sexually assaulted seminarians under his authority.
The Vatican confirmed in 2016 that Buela had been credibly accused of homosexual predation of adult seminarians, and was banned from making public appearances or having any contact with members of his community.
McCarrick took many trips to Argentina to visit IVE seminarians and would ordain a number of them. In McCarrick's own words spoken at a 2013 speech at Villanova University, it was McCarrick's deep involvement with the IVE that began his long and good friendship with Jorge Bergoglio.
On these trips to Argentina, McCarrick would first fly to Buenos Aires, where he would meet with Bergoglio, before taking a flight to rural San Rafael, IVE headquarters, where Fr. Buela was located.
McCarrick became so closely involved with the conservative and traditional religious order that he chose to live with the IVE at their seminary in Washington, D.C. when he retired.
In spite of Buela's homosexual activity, IVE had the reputation of being a deeply traditional and conservative community. It encountered great opposition from the bishops of Argentina. As reported by the Buenos Aires newspaper Pagina 12 and others, all but one of the Argentine bishops were opposed to the IVE, with Bergoglio spearheading the investigation of the community, taking the matter to Rome and eventually succeeding in having it shut down in Argentina.
As none of the Argentine bishops would ordain priests for the IVE, McCarrick flew in often to do so.
In spite of Bergoglio's success in having the IVE closed down in Argentina, McCarrick — with the help of Cdl. Angelo Sodano at the Vatican — was able to have the IVE re-opened, helping to found more seminaries and communities in the United States.
McCarrick never let the IVE forget this, as the Daily Caller reported: "Those who witnessed McCarrick at the seminary during that time said he used his help to the institute as leverage, and summed up his attitude as 'If you're grateful, you'll shut up.'"
Archbishop Viganò wrote in his testimony of McCarrick's longtime friendship with the pope: "At the time I knew nothing of his long friendship with Cardinal Bergoglio and of the important part he had played in his recent election, as McCarrick himself would later reveal in a lecture at Villanova University and in an interview with the National Catholic Reporter."
Viganò said he had personally informed the pope of McCarrick's homosexual predation on June 23, 2013, but the pope "continued to cover for him."
"He followed the advice of someone he knew well to be a pervert, thus multiplying exponentially with his supreme authority the evil done by McCarrick. And how many other evil pastors is Francis still continuing to prop up in their active destruction of the Church!" the former papal nuncio wrote.
Viganò also claims at least one other Argentine bishop, Cdl. Leonardo Sandri, knew about the allegations against McCarrick as early as 2000.
Pope Francis' friendship and his promotion of McCarrick as a close papal advisor continued to be the case even when in 2016, the Vatican affirmed the veracity of the accusations that the founder of the IVE, Fr. Buela, was guilty of sexually abusing seminarians. The Vatican sanctioned Buela, ordering him to have no contact with the community — even while McCarrick was living at the IVE seminary in Washington, D.C.
Deep questions remain as to Bergoglio's relationship with McCarrick, particularly in light of the fact that, in spite of Bergoglio's vigorous opposition to McCarrick's project with IVE in Argentina, he was still heavily supported by McCarrick, who admitted in his Villanova talk that he had lobbied for Bergoglio's election to the papacy in 2013.